Florida attorneys – and, in fact, lawyers from across the country – expect that the recent massive recall of pet food produced by Canadian-owned Menu Foods will generate many lawsuits. Florida attorneys specializing in product liability cases expect that any state residents who have had a pet injured as a result of pet food will join in a class action lawsuit against the company.
Menu Foods started receiving complaints on February 20 that dogs and cats consuming their products seemed to be experiencing kidney failure. When the company ran tests on the foods they produced and found that 1 in 6 animals died during the tests after eating the pet food. After the tests, and three weeks after the complaints, Menu Foods launched a massive recall. More than 90 popular brands of pet food were recalled by the pet food giant. Many of the `cuts and gravy’ style dog and cat food sold in North America were affected by the recall.
After the recall, it quickly became apparent that the pet deaths appeared to stem from some sort of contamination of the pet food. At first, federal investigators trying to pinpoint the exact cause of the contamination focused on protein filler wheat gluten. Eventually, however, it was determined that trace amounts of aminopterin, a rat poison banned in the US, was the contaminant. How the banned substance got into the pet food is currently under investigation. However, the fact that the substance is banned in the US and does not belong in any way in pet food products may further fuel lawsuits by pet owners.
Another controversy swirling around Menu Foods has to do with exactly how many pets have been affected by the tainted pet food. The company has officially only confirmed 16 deaths related to the pet food so far, although company representatives acknowledge that more pets may die in upcoming weeks as a result of the food. However, US-based website Veterinary Information Network has reported at least 471 cases of kidney failure among pets in the past 10 days alone. The website founder claims that the number of pets that could be affected in the coming weeks could number in the tens of thousands.
Kidney failure in dogs and cats gives the animals only slim chances of survival and treatment for the pets is costly. Florida attorneys expect that pet owners will be able to sue Menu Foods not only for vet bills and what the pet owners paid for the animal, but also potentially for sentimental values. Some pet owners are claiming that Menu Foods’ slow response to a possible danger as well as the actual cause of contamination show a recklessness or willful disregard, but it will ultimately be up to a court to determine how much Menu Foods is liable for the problem.